Today, HRC blasted a vote by the South Dakota House of Representatives in favor of yet another piece of discriminatory legislation attacking transgender youth in the Mount Rushmore State. Passed by a vote of 45 to 23, HB 1112 could ban transgender students from participating in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity. The bill is the third anti-LGBT piece of legislation passed by the chamber this year.
“Decency, fairness, and equality have been thrown to the wind by the South Dakota House of Representatives,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “As the third anti-LGBT bill passed by the chamber in less than two weeks, South Dakotans should be outraged at their lawmakers. This legislation is a vile attack on transgender youth who already face high rates of discrimination and harassment. We once again implore the Senate to stop these hateful pieces of legislation from moving any further.”
HB 1112 would directly override the authority of the South Dakota High School Activities Association and states, “a student’s sex is determined by the student’s chromosomes and the sex recorded on the student’s official birth certificate.” It explicitly voids the existing policy adopted by the Association, which allows transgender students to participate in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity. Another bill being considered by the House, HB 1209, would double down on this discriminatory approach by limiting “any public body of the state or its political subdivisions” that accepts a birth certificate for any reason - such as to establish age for purposes of eligibility for schools and school sports - to accept the birth certificate as definitive on every subject - including a person’s assigned sex at birth.
HB 1107 and 1008 are two other pieces of anti-LGBT legislation passed by the House of Representatives. Last night, by a vote of 46 to 10, the chamber passed HB 1107 – legislation that would explicitly authorize recipients of taxpayer funds or other state recognition to discriminate against same-sex couples, transgender people, and single mothers. Less than two weeks ago, the House also passed HB 1008 – a deplorable attempt to prevent transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. If passed, this bill would put South Dakota school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them into an untenable position of choosing between state and federal law and putting them on the hook for the expensive litigation sure to follow.
The extreme measures in South Dakota are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed by anti-equality activists around the country in 2016. To date, HRC is tracking over 150 anti-LGBT bills in 31 states. These range from legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; proposals aimed to authorize individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; bills seeking to restrict or criminalize transgender people who use facilities consistent with their gender identity; and even legislation aimed at eliminating the ability of local governments to protect LGBT residents and visitors. For more information, visit: www.hrc.org/2016legislature.
Working to stop such discriminatory legislation, HRC is proud to be fighting alongside local advocates at the ACLU of South Dakota to ensure LGBT residents and visitors across the Mount Rushmore State are treated with dignity and respect.